Five things to look for when choosing the right supported living service for a family member with autism or learning difficulties
When it’s time to start thinking about next steps for your loved one, supported living can be a greater step towards independence.
Supported living is a great way for people to gain more control over their lives - boosting confidence, empowering them to enjoy more hobbies and activities, and make their own choices and decisions, whilst ensuring that they have the emotional and physical support on hand whenever it is needed.
Lifeways has supported living accommodations across the UK which can enable people who live with autism or learning difficulties to lead a more autonomous life. Read on to hear our top five things to look out for when starting your search.
Choosing the right type of accommodation
The decision has been made - your loved one is ready to move into their first independent home. But how do you know which type of accommodation is right for them?
Depending on their individual needs, there are a few things to consider when it comes to making this decision. Whether it’s a shared house, an apartment, or a bungalow with assistive technology, there are a number of options for people living with autism or learning difficulties, based on their individual needs.
For those looking for somewhere with a vibrant and community feel, a shared house might be the best option for them. Sharing with like-minded people, there will always be someone on hand for a chat, to cook dinner with, or to relax in front of the television with. Those who would prefer a quieter space with a little more privacy might prefer the comfort of an apartment, with the opportunity to socialise in communal areas.
Individuals living with autism and learning difficulties may have issues with their confidence, and so finding the right support can make a huge difference, and give those who may have struggled with confidence in the past the ability to flourish.
Craig’s life has changed since moving into his supported living accommodation. His support worker has helped him to learn how to use specialist software to organise his daily schedule, keeping track of his activities week-by-week and supporting him to plan for the future.
Now, Craig goes to the youth club and quiz nights at his local pub and he plays snooker. “We went together on the train to the seaside and had an amazing day out cycling and fishing,” says his Support Worker, Lee.
Five things to look out for when finding the right supported living service
We know that each individual is unique, and therefore each person looking to move into supported living will want and need different things. However, there are a few key points to look out for when finding the right living arrangements for a loved one with autism or learning difficulties.
1. Availability of communal areas
Some people will prefer a home with communal areas where they will be able to meet like-minded people, and make new friends. It’s good to understand what communal areas are available when starting your search, and it’s important to let your Social Worker know your loved one’s preferences.
2. Flexible care based on specific needs
It’s important that your loved one gets exactly what they need when it comes to care and support, and so the level of personalisation is something to ask about when having conversations with potential support providers. It’s good to know that at Lifeways, our support plans are tailored around each person once we’ve spent time with them, their families, and any relevant care professionals in order to build a clear understanding of their current situation and future goals.
3. Sensory rooms, light and sound adjustments and assistive technology
Some people living with autism or learning difficulties may require adaptations to their surroundings. It’s worth asking if this is either something that will be readily available in the home, or if there’s a possibility of making any changes and adaptations once you or your loved one has moved in. Most supported living providers should be flexible in making adaptations to support individual needs.
Some supported living accommodations can be fitted with specialist technology to enable residents to remain independent and safe. Whether it’s a device that reminds people to lock their front doors, automatic lights or telephone blockers, assistive technology can help your loved ones to live more comfortably.
4. The support to maintain a routine
Some people with autism or learning difficulties follow routines, requiring a certain consistency and predictability to each day. These can be very rigid and encompass all areas of life, or they can be based around particular activities or times of the day. Whether a person lives in a self-contained apartment or a shared house, Lifeways will work with them to ensure that routines can be followed.
5. Being supported to pursue hobbies or to get a job
Everyone has hobbies they’d like to try or community events they’d like to get involved with, and it’s important that those in supported living are championed to do these things too. Whether it’s learning a new life skill, taking up a new hobby, volunteering or employment, at Lifeways we will ensure that all opportunities are encouraged and supported.
There’s plenty of choice and flexibility within Lifeways locations. Our supported living apartments provide stylish and purpose-built surroundings that ensure people with learning disabilities can live with independence in their own home, although certain adaptations are based on location and availability.
People like Sam can find huge benefits to living independently for the first time.
“I can do more independent stuff,” Sam says. “I feel quite independent and I can do supported cooking with staff because I do have learning disabilities.”
Sam has support each morning and evening, then also a few hours a week to go out and enjoy the things that he loves to do with the help of a support worker.
How Lifeways can help
Here at Lifeways, we believe that everyone deserves a home to feel proud of. We partner with several housing associations to find suitable and affordable places for people to live, and are on hand to help sort out tenancy agreements where needed, providing individuals with the security of their own homes.
We also know that it's really important to have the right support network beside you, so we make sure to carefully match our support team with each person, considering our team's skills, knowledge and specialism, along with personality traits, hobbies and interests to make sure that we nurture friendly and rewarding relationships.